Have you ever wondered how pole dancers perform or train whilst on their period? Well, according to Australia’s Got Talent champion and competitive pole dancer Kristy Sellars, it’s not the most convenient or comfortable experience.
“Many of the moves we do excerpt a lot of energy, and when you’re menstruating, this means needing very good solutions that will ensure you aren’t leaking onto your shorts,” explains Sellars. As pole fitness is an extreme sport, the hassle of executing the tricks needed in classes or performances while menstruating is exhausting. “I’ve always poled on my period but have also found it to be uncomfortable, and I’d be conscious [when using tampons] of a runaway string or a visible pad.”
If you’ve ever watched a pole dancer perform, you’ll notice that they wear shorts with limited coverage. Contrary to popular belief, the performer is not purposely wearing such little material to be scandalous. Instead, they serve a purpose: To allow the dancer to stick onto the steel, chrome, or brass pole and execute dangerous tricks without falling off. "Needing your skin to grip the pole means wearing shorts, so leggings aren’t really an option," Sellars elaborates.
This prompted Sellars to create the ultimate solution to every poler’s problem: ‘Smoove’ — a portmanteau of the words ‘smooth’ and ‘movement’ — period pole shorts, a world’s first. "It seemed obvious to me that polers needed a solution that would give them confidence and coverage needed while also still looking like regular pole shorts," Sellars continues. While period underwear is not an inherently new concept to those who menstruate, it is not as commonly used in the fitness world — and especially not for pole dancing.
Due to regular pole shorts already being so tiny, it is quite impossible for polers to wear “bulky” period underwear underneath them without being visible and ruining cute performance outfits. As Sellars mentioned before, most dancers resort to using tampons, pads, or menstrual cups under their pole shorts for classes or performances. Thus, the two-in-one function of Sellars' 'Smoove' shorts take away the added anxiety and stress performers have when executing tricks on their period.
Below, Sellars shares her journey with pole dancing, her success as a pole studio owner, and more about the ‘Smoove’ period pole shorts that have the fitness community buzzing.
Kristy Sellars practising a routine at PhysiPole Ballarat, Australia
Tell us about yourself. How did you first start pole dancing and how did the PhysiPole franchise begin?
My journey started with a love of dance from a young age, although I didn’t do jazz, ballet and tap when I was young like you’d expect. Instead, I tried different movements like cheerleading, hip hop, and aerobics. I loved creating routines and bringing them all together. When I turned 16 I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life so I auditioned for a full-time performance school. They usually didn’t accept anyone under 18 but I surprised myself (and my parents) and got in!
From there, I got to explore almost every style of dance under the sun, and by the time I finished 2 years, I made my way to Hollywood to try to work as a commercial dancer. What a whirlwind learning experience that was! I got to work on music videos and perform in live concerts. It opened my eyes to the world and I got to dance for a total of 12 months over there which gave me a great amount of experience when I got back.
Once I was back in Australia, I started teaching a lot and was still trying my hand at any new style of dance I could find. One day, I came across an ad in a newspaper for pole dancing classes. It was a very small ad and the classes were in the instructors home garage, but it didn’t matter, I loved it anyway and instantly saw the potential to combine other dance styles with pole.
Over the next few years, I increased my skills, performed in competitions and opened my own studio. It was a natural progression for me as I was teaching dance anyway and had become obsessed with pole. It was a small pop up studio in Warrnambool where I rented a room on the weekends from my old karate instructor. Eventually, I had enough students to take on a full-time lease of my own.
Fast forward another year and I had opened another location in Ballarat and had some of my students asking about opening a PhysiPole of their own in their home towns. And the PhysiPole franchise was born. As more and more students became instructors and then managers, they naturally progressed to wanting their own business and the franchise grew. Before long, there were 17 locations across 5 states in Australia and our PhysiFam welcomed thousands of students every year.
What compelled you to create ‘Smoove’? Was there a specific moment you had poling where you just knew you had to create a product like it?
It was literally a lightbulb moment. I wasn’t actually poling but I was chatting to someone about period underwear and how great it was, then a few days later it just came into my head. So clearly, and so obviously. I immediately googled to find if this idea had been created for polers yet but all I came across were forums of people discussing how annoying it was to wear period underwear with pole shorts. I then called a couple of close friends who also own studios to get their initial reaction and once I heard that, I couldn’t get a sample created fast enough. The creation process was much harder than I anticipated. There are additional seams in period underwear that I wanted hidden in these all in one solution shorts, so the back and forward with sampling went for a while.
What makes ‘Smoove’ special and why should pole dancers invest in it?
‘Smoove’ shorts are the first of their kind in the world. There are some brands bringing activewear period products to the market but nothing specifically for polers. We know that an extra-wide crotch is especially important when poling, and I wanted to add features like a high waistband to ease bloating and to give the wearer more confidence.
At the same time, I didn’t want it to look like a nappy so I kept the signature cheeky cut across the booty that pole dancers love. They are perfect if you’re wanting to use them for a total solution, or even as a backup if using a cup or tampon but want extra comfort to know you won’t leak. Being reusable, they save not only the environment but our wallets too. Just a few months of disposable period products would cover the cost of these shorts.
What was the research and development process like? Could you share a personal challenge or achievement you had during it?
Oh my gosh, it was awful! I honestly thought at one point that they just wouldn’t work. As I was saying earlier, the seams were a problem. It’s fine if you’re just creating underwear because no one will see the seams, but the shorts had to appear to be outerwear while working as underwear.
Figuring out the top layer was especially difficult because regular cotton will just let the contents sit on the top, and this would result in the wearer feeling wet. I didn’t want that, so we went back and forward to find a fabric that would soak the contents immediately pulling moisture away so you stay dry. I think that and the seams were the most difficult challenge.
Testing them was interesting, I tried all types of workouts, I did strength, I tried extreme stretching to see if they would move or leak out the sides. I ended up widening the absorbent area just in case contortionists decide to wear them!
How does the technology behind ‘Smoove’ work?
There are 4 layers. The top layer pulls the moisture away and into the next layer which is the main absorbent material. Underneath that is an almost plastic-type — doesn’t feel plastic when you wear it but it’s the only way I can describe the waterproof backing material — leak-proof layer, followed by the regular shorts.
When are you launching ‘Smoove’ and how much does a pair of shorts cost?
‘Smoove’ shorts will be available mid-August and they’ll be $75 AUD (about $75 SGD). If you join the launch list you will get a little discount code to use on launch day.
Will the shorts be available worldwide or just restricted to Australia?
Available worldwide with free international shipping!
You can join the launch list for ‘Smoove’ here.